Solid start for Firsts as George Baumbers boys progress into the next round
SOUTHPORT 1st XV 10 BURNLEY 1st XV 3 by George Baumber
A new season, a new head coach and the ever passionate Waterloo Road faithful turned out in their numbers to see if the Southport first team could progress as quickly on the pitch as things are developing off the pitch. With flesh blood in the debut of Danny Booth and new positions for the likes of Matty Astwood, Chris Tees and Craig Pacey the expectation would have been to see a disjointed display as people adapt but this wasn’t to be the case.
From the off, the work rate of the forwards was exceptional with big tackles being made by Sam Cross and Calum Monaghan forcing Burnley into many mistakes. This enabled the Southport team to dominate both possession and territory but much to the frustration of all involved with Southport couldn’t convert this into the points. To their credit the entire team didn’t let this affect them and continued to pressurise the opposition especially the lineouts in which Gareth Lang and Josh Critchley had the measure of where the ball was going to be thrown and made crucial interceptions. This set the platform for some excellent driving mauls deep into the Burnley 22 and led to the first near miss of the game when the pack drove forward were illegally pulled down but the lively Booth stayed on his feet and was unfortunate to be held up just short of the line. The next opportunity came and went again from some excellent driving mauls but this time Joe Mawdsley decided to shift the balls to the backs with swift hands a try looked inevitable until an unfortunate knock on with the Burnley back line broken.
At half time returning coach Bill Nicholl asked for the balance of play to be shifted from the forwards to the backs. However the flow of the game was severely disrupted in the second half due to Burnleys aggressive approach and subsequent retaliation by the Southport forwards. The referee tried his best to control things by sin binning a player from each side but still the trouble continued which meant each ruck or maul resulted in one side being penalised with a penalty.
It would take some inspiration to win this game and that was when Astwood stepped forward taking a quick penalty sprinting down the right wing. Many Burnley defenders were sucked in and the ball was recycled and moved quickly along the back line of Danny Banks, Forest Bailey, Chris Tees, Tom Peacock and finally Ben Cresswell who stepped inside his opposition winger and drove over the line through two very strong challenges. The blustery conditions made kicking almost impossible on the day so the score remained 5-0.
Burnley wouldn’t be deterred and finally put an extended spell of pressure on Southport. With time running down they kicked a penalty from near the halfway line and the score came to 5-3. Southport reacted to this setback by reasserting their forward domination in open play and at the lineouts and camped themselves in the opposition 22. Line out after line out resulted in a driving maul to which Burnley had no reply but Southport didn’t cross the line until the ball was moved from right to left again with young Cresswell on hand again to score a near identical try.
That was that a 10-3 victory leaving everyone from Southport happy. Lets hope that Southport can repeat the trick in their first league game on Saturday away at Dukinfield.